External reservoirs offer novel alternative to expensive printer cartridges

Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools site is full of neat stuff, and a recent post on inkjet printers caught my eye. Buying cartridges is incredibly expensive if you get officially endorsed refills made by the printer manufacturer. Generic cartridges are much cheaper, but they still don't last very long if you do a lot of printing.

Cobra Ink Systems has an interesting solution to the problem. Instead of selling plain refill cartridges, Cobra offers kits that feed printers using ink stored in easily filled (and rather large) external reservoirs. Ink can then be bought in bulk, sans cartridge, at what looks like lower prices than I've been paying for generic cartridges.

Of course, standard printers have to be modified to work with Cobra's external reservoirs. Cobra sells all the necessary parts if you want to perform the surgery yourself, and it also offers a lineup of pre-modded Epson printers that cost $50-150 more than stock units. Since hacking a printer to work with external reservoirs will void the warranty, Cobra provides six months of coverage for its pre-modded printers.

The ink cartridge business has to be one of the biggest rackets in the technology industry, so it's nice to see Cobra offering a novel solution to the issue. If only I used my printer more than a handful of times per year.

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